Japan may soon allow married women to use maiden names in passports

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As part of efforts to promote women’s active participation in society, the government is considering allowing them to put their maiden names alongside their married names in passports from around fiscal 2019, according to government sources.

The plan will be included in the government’s Intensive Policy to Accelerate the Empowerment of Women 2017, which will be decided in early June.

The Foreign Ministry, which is in charge of passport-related issues, plans to begin making the necessary revisions to laws and regulations after studying cases overseas, among other things.

Under the current system, only a limited number of people are allowed to use their maiden names along with their married ones, such as those who use their maiden names for work or other activities overseas.

They are required to submit a document to show their achievements under their maiden names.

There are some exceptions to this requirement, such as when a person hopes to renew a passport that already has both names.

But as the system involves cumbersome procedures and is not widely known, less than 1 per cent of people who had their passports issued in 2016 chose to list their married and maiden names, including people who are married to non-Japanese nationals.

In response to the new policy, the ministry is going to consider changing the principle of writing down “names that are on the family registry” on passports, which is stated in enforcement regulations of the Passport Law, into a system in which anyone can have both their maiden and married names written on their passports without submitting a certificate.

The ministry will also consider changing the form of writing both names on passports. Currently, a maiden name is put in parentheses and placed to the right of the married name on the passport.

As this form using parentheses is rare by international standards, it has been pointed out that people with such passports tend to wait longer at immigration control.

As it is sometimes allowed overseas to list a maiden name as a middle name on a passport, the ministry will study such an option as well.

The government’s intensive policy to accelerate the empowerment of women was first compiled in 2015, and this year will be the third year of the policy.

It will be officially approved in early June at a meeting of the Headquarters for Creating a Society in which All Women Shine, headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The policy is expected to also include the establishment of legal arrangements for allowing people to have both maiden and married names written on their My Number identification cards in fiscal 2018 or later, and measures to promote the use of maiden names for things such as bank accounts.

In the field of child care, the new policy is expected to clearly state the government will continue efforts to support the commercialization of liquid formula, which is currently not allowed to be sold in the nation.

Regarding the working environment, it will say the government will study measures to make sure corporate information such as the percentage of women in managerial positions and the percentage of male employees taking child-care leave is disclosed.

***Major points from Intensive Policy to Accelerate the Empowerment of Women 2017***

■ Allowing people, in principle, to have both their maiden and married names on their passports from around fiscal 2019. Promoting use of maiden names on My Number cards and for bank accounts

■ Promoting commercialization of liquid baby formula

■ Reinforcing disclosure of corporate information related to women’s empowerment

■ Providing medical and scientific support for women athletes heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and ParalympicsSpeech

Friday, June 2, 2017 – 11:26

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